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A Day in the Life of an IT Ho 

Added: 07/24/2008, Hits: 2,804, Rating: 0, Comments: 0, Votes: 0
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Most of The Pimp's business is developing and selling software. One piece of software in particular is used to take data from a 911 phone system and log it in a backend database. Dispatchers and Police Officers use a frontend client application to view/search logged emergency call records.

We get a call from one client stating that our program is not recording any 911 data today. I worked on a similar problem for this same client yesterday so I know for a fact that everything was running fine as of 2pm yesterday. Obviously something has changed.

A lot of clients buy servers from us and we support the software, the OS and the hardware. Not in this case. Our software is running on a third party server and technically we are not even responsible for troubleshooting the OS.

I spend a few hours working on the server remotely including doing a shutdown and restart and come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no data coming across that serial port. We finally decide to send a tech onsite to look at it. He connects his laptop up to the data feed and right away starts getting data. Hmmm. Let's try another serial port on the server, I say. Sure enough, data is coming across the second port just fine. So by now we've spent about 4 hours proving that this generic dust magnet server has a bad serial port. Nagging at the back of my mind is that everything was working fine yesterday.

The plot thickens..

After doing a couple checks on the software and verifying that everything is working again I suddenly lose my remote connection. The field tech says to me over the phone:

"Did you just get disconnected?'


"The screen just went out. I heard a pop... and it smells like something is burning. The lights in the room flickered too."

Over the phone I can hear the fans firing up and then stopping over and over again. Something is very not good. The field tech determines that the power supply seems to have failed. Since this server wasn't purchased from us, the field tech goes off to find the dispatcher to let him know he needs to get the server vendor out to repair it. The field tech also asks if the dispatcher happpened to notice the lights flicker...

After spending the entire afternoon working on the problem,
After troubleshooting remotely with about 3 different people,
After sending our own tech out to troubleshoot someone else's server,
After calling my wife to tell her I'll be late for dinner, the dispatcher pulls the big piece in the center of the puzzle out of his pocket and puts it in place:

Dispatcher: "Nah, nothing flickered.....BUT WE DID GET HIT BY LIGHTNING LAST NIGHT. You think that has anything to do with it?"

I can see the whole picture now. It's a sailboat.

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